CORBIN — Neighbors, Oct. 23, 2010
Special to the Times-Tribune
As students enter April Helton’s eighth grade science class at Knox County Middle School each day, they are welcomed into a world of investigation and exploration. Helton, who is in her 15th year of teaching in the Knox County Schools, has been named Kentucky Middle School Science Teacher of the Year by the Kentucky Science Teachers Association.
“I was really shocked, humbled, and happy,” Helton said after learning she is this year’s recipient of the award. “When I was completing the paperwork, I wasn’t sure if I would get it or not.”
The announcement was made public during a school assembly held Monday, Oct. 4, at Knox County Middle. Students and co-workers roared with applause as two students unrolled a congratulatory banner as the assembly started.
“We are very honored, and very privileged, to have someone as dedicated as her,” said principal Kelly Sprinkles during the assembly. “We are very proud of Mrs. Helton and proud to call her one of our own.”
Helton is proud to call KCMS home, and is even prouder of her students.
“I love my students and the interaction that I get to have with them”, said Helton. “Hearing them say that they love science; I really love that part.”
The methods of teaching science have changed since she attended school and started teaching. Helton credits her passion for science to her curiosity of having questions and seeking the answers to everyday things.
“I believe science is one of those things that you have to do to really understand it. When I was in school it was all about reading out of a book. Today, it’s learning by actually doing hands on experiments.”
It is through investigation and experimentation that students in Helton’s classes learn about the world around them. “I love seeing the light bulb go off as they get it.”
Helton has been a teacher at the middle school since it opened five years ago. Prior to Knox Middle she taught at Lynn Camp. However, she has been a teacher at heart since growing up.
“When I was a little kid I would pretend to be a teacher. I taught my cousins their ABCs,” recalled Helton.
Her own school background is the driving force behind her dedication to students and commitment to education today. Helton doesn’t credit science teacher of the year as her biggest accomplishment. She sees completing high school and later college as her greatest achievement.
“When I was in elementary school I had a few teachers that really made a difference,” reflected Helton. “I come from parents who did not finish high school and education wasn’t valued in my family as it is today. Those teachers helped me believe in myself.
“I really do believe that one person can make a difference because I saw that in my own life. Through education you can do whatever you want. You can achieve those goals, you can reach those dreams.”
The expectations in her classroom are known by students, co-workers, and administrators in the school district.
“All of us are very proud of Mrs. Helton. She does a wonderful job each day preparing her students for success,” said Superintendent Walter Hulett. “This award is very fitting of the way she goes about preparing our children for the future.”
The Kentucky Science Teachers Association will officially present Helton with the Middle School Science Teacher of the Year award at their fall conference Nov. 5 at the Hyatt Regency in Lexington. She will be recognized during the general session awards ceremony from 1-3 p.m. Helton hopes that she can use this recognition to encourage and motivate others.
“I hope that by me doing this, others will see that they can do this too,” said Helton. “We have teachers in our county who are just as deserving of this title. They go the extra mile and are teachers of the year.
“I love to help others and love to teach adults as well. I understand how much I have changed since that first or second year of teaching. “I really do love what I teach,” added Helton. “I can’t imagine anyone not loving it.”